Korean beauty

The Metropolitician blogs today about how the shift in Korea’s sense of female beauty has caused many to go under the knife:

What Korea is really pioneering is an entire new aesthetic, a mixture of European beauty standards and surgical interpretations of them on Korean faces. Seriously. I’m not being facetious (hehe) here. When I came in 1994 and watched Korean TV, I could tell people apart, and they looked more, well…umm…Korean. Now, it’s literally like a new race of people I see both on screens and in the streets. [full post]

The post has a number of shocking before and after shots, along with some context with some older photos of Korean women. I’ll second his observations, though from a different angle.

What’s surprising is that getting one of the most common Korean surgeries – known as ssanggapul or ‘double-eyelid,’ which makes Asian eyes look more Western – is not always something young girls are begging their parents for after being inundated with images of heavily surgeried ‘beauties’ on the streets of Seoul. In fact, sometimes the case is quite opposite, with parents (usually mothers) heavily pressuring their daughter to get the surgery, even against their child’s will.

The situation is bizarre – I met a girl who was opposed to having surgery and had pacified her mom by saying she’d at least just go in for a consulation. When she got there, the surgery appointment had already been made, and though after a fuss, she decided to get it done.

Riding buses in Seoul, the back seats are plastered with ads for the double-eyelid surgery (among others), and its hard not to wonder what kind of effect this has not only on Korean bodies, but also on Korea’s perception of itself as a people and society. How can you be proud of your identity if you’re constantly changing the shape of your face?

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